Asbergers Syndrome

Asbergers Syndrome

WHAT IS Asbergers Disease?

Asperger syndrome also called Asperger’s syndrome, Asperger’s disorder, Asperger’s or AS is one of several autism spectrum disorders (ASD) characterized by difficulties in social interaction and by restricted, stereotyped interests and activities.

AS is distinguished from the other ASDs in having no general delay in language or cognitive development. Although not mentioned in standard diagnostic criteria, motor clumsiness and atypical use of language are frequently reported.

Asbergers Symptoms

Individuals with Asperger syndrome may have signs or symptoms that are independent of the diagnosis, but can affect the individual or the family. These include differences in perception and problems with motor skills, sleep, and emotions.

Individuals with AS often have excellent auditory and visual perception. Children with ASD often demonstrate enhanced perception of small changes in patterns such as arrangements of objects or well-known images; typically this is domain-specific and involves processing of fine-grained features. Conversely, compared to individuals with HFA, individuals with AS have deficits in some tasks involving visual-spatial perception, auditory perception, or visual memory.

Many accounts of individuals with AS and ASD report other unusual sensory and perceptual skills and experiences. They may be unusually sensitive or insensitive to sound, light, touch, texture, taste, smell, pain, temperature, and other stimuli, and they may exhibit synesthesia, for example, a smell may trigger perception of color; these sensory responses are found in other developmental disorders and are not specific to AS or to ASD. There is little support for increased fight-or-flight response or failure of habituation in autism; there is more evidence of decreased responsiveness to sensory stimuli, although several studies show no differences.

Asperger syndrome was named after Hans Asperger who, in 1944, described children in his practice who lacked nonverbal communication skills, failed to demonstrate empathy with their peers, and were physically clumsy. Fifty years later, AS was recognized in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10), and in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) as Asperger’s Disorder.

Questions about many aspects of AS remain: for example, there is lingering doubt about the distinction between AS and high-functioning autism (HFA); partly due to this, the prevalence of AS is not firmly established. The exact cause of AS is unknown, although research supports the likelihood of a genetic contribution, and brain imaging techniques have identified structural and functional differences in specific regions of the brain.

There is no single treatment for Asperger syndrome, and the effectiveness of particular interventions is supported by only limited data. Intervention is aimed at improving symptoms and function. The mainstay of treatment is behavioral therapy, focusing on specific deficits to address poor communication skills, obsessive or repetitive routines, and clumsiness.

Most individuals with AS can learn to cope with their differences, but may continue to need moral support and encouragement to maintain an independent life. Researchers and people with AS have contributed to a shift in attitudes away from the notion that AS is a deviation from the norm that must be treated or cured, and towards the view that AS is a difference rather than a disability.

 

Symptoms of: | Asbergers Syndrome | Asperbergers | Asbergers Disorder | Asbergers Disease